Time and Profitability

Time and Profitability


Time waits on no one and once spent it is lost.

For most organizations time is its most important asset. Waste it and it’s gone and with it the profits to keep your organization viable. How an organization spends its time can be the difference between success and failure.

Below is a tool to help access how your organization spends time and the associated impact on profits. The tool is designed to bring awareness and understanding of the usage of time into four different quadrants.


1.       Planning             5- 10%

2.       Execution             85% +

3.       Fire Fight            <   5%

4.       Crisis                    <   1 %


Time in this quadrant is spent on defining how and what the organization will deliver. Activities such as strategic planning, competitor analysis, product/service development, procedure definition, process mapping, performance measures and problem solving are done here.

Time spent is this quadrant is extremely valuable to your organization and should ensure your business has a focused plan for success.  Depending on the size and maturity of the organization I recommend spending somewhere between 5 – 10% of the time here. The right amount is determined by the time needed to ensure the organization remains successful.


Time used here is spent delivering the products and services of your organization. In high performing businesses time spent here will be 85%+. This means 8.5 /10 or better the transaction is to standard.

To qualify as time spent in this quadrant, time must be used to meet performance standards.  For instance, the time required to take a customer order and ship the product or perform the service should be in compliance with the process standard/job definition. If the required customer order information is missing or incorrect, the product is not available, you use excessive labour or other disruptions occur, that time is captured and allocated to time spent in quadrant 3 or 4. I have included an example below.

Fire Fight

Time spent here is the incremental/reactive (Fire Fight) time spent to redo or correct for a failure. In a struggling organization time spent here can be moderate to excessive. For instance, a construction project with a 25% labor overrun, a capital project severely over budget and behind schedule or a failed service delivery would be an example of this. Any event where more labor, especially management intervention, is required than would be expected qualifies here.

Here is an example of a personal experience. I recently ordered 500 new business cards. The original order arrived and there was a minor error on the card. I called the company and, as promised, they agreed to correct it at no additional cost to me. While the original order was online it now involved a customer service representative and took approximately 20 minutes.  The reorder was shipped express mail and was received about a week later. I opened the shipment and found they shipped me only 100 cards. Back on the phone again and another 20 minutes later they apologized and agreed to ship the order a third time and because they only ship in 100, 250, 500+ order sizes they informed me I would receive 500 more business cards. So now I have 1100 new business cards and this vendor spent their profit and more fulfilling the order. This could be a onetime occurrence but I doubt it!

I see these things go on everywhere. Redo’s can crush an organization’s profit and can be a leading cause of business losses. No business can sustain prolonged under-performance and the associated overspending on labor. Take a second and consider instances that occur inside your business.


To qualify as time spent in crisis, the circumstances are dire and the resulting cost/business impact would be considered extreme. Events here can be classified as internal and external.

Internal crisis are or should be controllable, whereas, external events are caused, arguably, as events beyond the control of your organization. I will explain why I say arguably, shortly.

Internal events are things like chronic labor overruns, major inventory mismanagement, extreme excess non valued added labor spending or simply failure to maintain a healthy organization culture and efficient customer focused workforce.

External causes include changes in government policy, major changes in economic conditions, changing customer preferences, disruptive competitive offerings or actions including anything from new entrants, price actions or new technology:

My arguably comments is relevant to the extent of your organization’s responsiveness to addressable events. The best example of this might be Yahoo, an undisputed market champion that fell prey to Google and others due to lack of focus and failure to correct course.



By classifying the time your organization spends in each of the quadrants, you can raise awareness and take the appropriate corrective action. This tool is intended to start conversations that will lead to addressing required changes as opposed to accepting that this is the way things work around here. Most organizations have standards; however, often the prevailing practice becomes the de facto standard. In some case an organization is knowingly underperforming and accepts this as acceptable due to weak leadership. Say for instance our standard is to return customer calls within 2 hours but call routinely don’t get make until 6 or more hours and no corrective action is initiated. Or more severe would be no investigation into labor overruns.

I recently led a strategic planning session for a client where – during a mid morning break – several managers began a conversation identifying several inefficiencies that where occurring and had been occurring for a long time. As I listened each manager shared their displeasure with the situation. As the break ended the conversation dropped.

Based on my observation I offered the following. First off all, you agreed this was a clear case of unnecessary disruption that was causing ongoing fire fighting to overcome these efficiencies. No one has taken ownership of any of the issues and no one has committed to addressing this issue for resolution. In short, they had accepted this as the way things were done. Reluctantly these issues were added to the ‘To-Do List’ by the leadership team.

This is not an isolated example. I have had similar experiences in many companies I have worked with. This is the low-hanging-fruit that successful organization harvest. Failure to identify and harvest the fruit results in decay and waste.

In my next post I will address how to best deal with undesirable findings in Time Management.

Stephen Howell

Horizon Executive Consulting

I Know You’re Mad at United but… (Thoughts from a Pilot Wife About Flight 3411)

It is so common that the facts get overshadowed by the issues. This situation was enraged by the actions of the individual and then the media. It’s an unfortunate reality in a very complex system that is their by necessity. Perhaps this should had been sorted out earlier in the process and that was unfortunate but he was bumped does and it ultimately matter if it occurred late. I would have been upset if it were me but I think the passengers overreaction is the real story here.

The Pilot Wife Life

If there’s one thing I have learned over the years, it’s that there arealways two sides to every story.

On April 9th, a very unfortunate incident played out on United Flight 3411, the video of which has since gone viral causing a mass social media uprising with an ‘off-with-their-heads’ mentality. I mean, across the board. Fire ’em all and let the gods sort it out later.

Look, I get it. When I first saw the video I was appalled too. To say that it was inflammatory would be putting it mildly. But it was also a situation that was escalated far beyond the boundaries of necessity.

If a federal law enforcement officer asks me to exit a plane, no matter how royally pissed off I am, I’m going to do it and then seek other means of legal reimbursement. True story.

Knowing what I know about airport security, I’m

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5 easy steps to creating a successful e-mail marketing campaign

E-mail marketing is not dead – in fact it’s thriving

By: Matt Beauchamp, Owner of MRB Ink

With a future filled with tweets, Facebook posts, live web-casts, and snap chats the noise surrounding a brands marketing efforts can make the thought of e-mail marketing seem like bringing a cave man to a social media convention. But, as theses stats prove, e-mail marketing is not dead – in fact it’s thriving.

With this in mind, I’ve compiled an easy five step process to help you build a successful e-mail marketing campaign.

Step 1: Get permission/build a database

Build a database by offering an e-mail list sign up on your website and through your communication with customers. Since the enacting of CASL you need permission to contact the customer database you already have.

Be sure to include an incentive for why someone should sign up for your list. Depending on the product or service your company offers consider offering discount codes, insider tips, and more to entice people to read your e-mails.

Step 2: Create an e-mail marketing schedule

There’s nothing worse than signing up for an e-mail mailing list and then getting inundated with e-mails on a daily basis. You don’t want to abuse the list(s) that you work hard to cultivate. Create a plan and a schedule that will outline what e-mail campaigns you’re creating, why you’re creating them and when you will be executing them, making sure that there isn’t an overlap of databases, or periods of time where you are hitting your list on a daily basis. The last thing you want to do is take months and years to build a list, only to have it decimated by unsubscribes.

Step 3: Create compelling content

This is a multi-step process. First is to ensure you have a content writer in place. Whether this is someone on staff, or a freelance write your hire, make sure you have someone with a background in writing. The content you create needs to be compelling, but most importantly professional. A qualified writer will avoid making mistakes in language and grammar and will have the ability to focus messages on your brand and the message you’re trying to portray.

The second step is to create actionable subject lines. The subject line is the first thing the reader will see from you. Incorporating verbs like reserve, take, download, buy will tell readers exactly what they can do with the e-mail. But also using subject lines with a call to action like “Don’t miss this opportunity to ….” Will entice readers to open your e-mail and read what you have to say.

Next, create content that shows the personality of your business. Stiff, formal e-mails may be appropriate for certain types of businesses – IE: a law firm, or financial institution – but may be off putting for others. For example if you’re an events company, you can use your e-mails to show the customer what kind of a fun experience they’ll have at your events through the language you use in your e-mails. Ensure you e-mail content sticks to the strategy you have created in Step 2, and has some sort of call to action within it.

Lastly, personalize your e-mails when possible. Research has shown that personalized e-mails have a much better chance of being opened then generic e-mails. Research from E-marketer showed that highly segmented and personalized e-mails had an open rate 39% higher than other e-mails.

Step 4: Maximize mobile open rates

Mobile open rates can account for up to 70 per cent of your open rates. This is a massive part of your customer base, and one that cannot be ignored.

With Apple’s latest IOS system update in September of 2015 – IOS 9, users with the 6S and 6S Plus got introduced to the new 3D touch system which introduces pressure sensitive ‘peeking’ and ‘popping.’ This new system will allow users to ‘peek’ at an e-mail without actually opening it. Since the pictures still download in the ‘peek’ function, this still counts as an opened e-mail, however your content will need to be more eye catching than ever. With users potentially only giving you a couple seconds of thought, your subject line, initial paragraph and images will all need to maximize their space and engage your customer.

Step 5: Crunch the numbers

Most e-mail marketing service providers will have some sort of analytics built into their program. Analytics are great to have and can really allow you to focus your content to maximize your ultimate sales goals. While each provider may have a large number of analytic categories, the three I have found most important are open rate, click-through rate and unsubscribes.

Your open rate speaks most to your relationship with your customer. If they dread getting an e-mail from you, or have no interest in your communications, this is where you will see it the most. If you have a low open rate it means customers are deleting your e-mail upon receipt, or have directed your e-mails directly to their junk mail.

If your click-through rate is low, this is a reflection of your content. Look at revising and updating your content, and examining ways you can improve.

If you have high unsubscribe rates you’ve passed a point of no return with a lot of your subscribers – or should I say your past subscribers. Examine your analytics and your marketing plans to determine where the leaks are coming from and how you can plug them. Are you hitting your list too often? Not often enough? Is your content of value? The last thing you want to do is lose all of the subscribers on your list(s) you’ve worked so hard to acquire.

How to write the perfect e-mail

E-mail is one of the most used forms of communication today, make sure you’re using it right


By: Matt Beauchamp, Owner of MRB Ink

E-mail is one of the most used forms of communication today. Most of us use it all day everyday. We receive countless e-mails all day, often opening one to find a long rambling message that quickly has us deleting it.

We’ve all seen these e-mails. The ones where we wonder if the writer had any idea what they were doing when they crafted their message.

The funny thing is, we’re likely guilty of writing these e-mails as well.

When we’re contacting someone for the first time, why is it so hard to write that perfect e-mail?

Not to worry, we’ve got some tips to help you write a great e-mail that gets your message across and gets your e-mail read. We’ll even give you an example of the perfect e-mail.

Why are you writing?

First you need to establish WHY you are writing the e-mail. Are you looking to get a reply from the recipient? Are you paying them a compliment with no reply necessary? Are you inquiring about something? Or is the point of the e-mail just to open communication lines for sometime in the future?

Once you have established the point of your e-mail, it’s much easier to craft something more specific, which in turn will make it more likely to reach your goal.

Get to the point

People want to know why you’re writing and they want to know fast. Skip long-winded introductions, compliments and stories about how you know a friend-of-a-friend. Tell the reader why you’re writing and what you want from them.

If you need a reply make sure they know it. If no reply is necessary then let them know they don’t need to get back to you. They’ll love to hear it!


Keep it simple, stupid! It’s almost shocking that this needs to be said, but it’s true. There’s nothing worse than receiving an e-mail that is cluttered with pictures, and hyperlinks and different kinds of font.

Keep your message straight forward and to the point. If your message can be said in only a couple of sentences, then do that. Trim excess sentences and words to ensure that you only have the real meat of what you’re trying to say.

What’s in it for them?

Too often e-mails are about what’s in it for you, why the receiver should help you, etc. Don’t be afraid to tell them what’s in it for them.

Make sure if you’re stating benefits that they are reasonable. For example e-mailing Mashable and asking for a shout-out on their front page isn’t reasonable. Make sure you do your homework and that the receiver actually does what you are asking.


As your writing your perfect e-mail, think of it the same as introducing yourself to someone face-to-face.

When meeting someone for the first time it’s not likely you would excessively shower them with compliments, or give them your whole life story. More realistically you’d do a quick introduction of yourself, then listen to them as they did the same.

In writing an e-mail this equates to hitting the send button after an introduction.

20 questions

Try to minimize the amount of questions you ask in an e-mail. The more questions (especially open-ended one) you ask, the less likely you are to get a response.

Keep your questions to one or two max per e-mail. Make sure you ask direct questions like, “Can we meet for coffee next week to discuss the proposal?” Don’t expect all of life’s questions to be answered in one e-mail. Avoid questions like “How can I get rich quick.”

Remember you can always ask more question in additional e-mails. They key here is to keep the lines of communication open.


Here’s an example of a terrible e-mail.

Dear Matt,

I hope you are doing well! I was curious if you had any concerns about your online marketing and how it works or figuring out what is going to work you’re your project. I know firsthand how frustrating and challenging it can be to keep focused on your marketing with all of the different channels out there and all of the information.

When I first started my own company, I didn’t even know where to start with my marketing projects. Should I go with social media? A website? Who should I call? Luckily over the years I figured it all out!

We’ve had tremendous success with companies like ABC Corporation, where we took a marketing budget and expanded their company base by 50%. Would you like more customers? Do you want to see increased profits?

Would it make sense for us to chat? Either by phone or in person? If you don’t feel like we can be of service then please let me know, otherwise I would love to talk to you about what areas you are trying to address and how we could help. Could you please get back to me?


Jim Smith

Thankfully this is not an e-mail I have actually received, however I have received some VERY similar to this. Long, with too many questions, and only a vague understanding of what they could do for me.

Using the tips we’ve discussed above, here’s how this e-mail should be.

Hi Matt,

I’m writing on behalf of <Insert Web URL>.  We create online marketing programs that make it easy for businesses to grow.

Here are some companies we have created successful programs for <Insert list of related and well known sites>. Creating a program with us takes very little time and most companies see results they love within the first two weeks.

I have openings on Wednesday and Friday of next week to share these strategies with you, which day would work for you?


ABC Marketing Company


Take Home Points

·      Get to the point

·      Keep it simple

·      Clearly state next action

·      Present benefits

·      Edit for conciseness

·      Limit questions